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Source.-(iii) Memorandum by Alexander Duff, reproduced in the 'Life of Alexander Duff." Vol. I., pp. 200-3. G. Smith. (Hodder & Stoughton.)
What will be the effect of these yearly augmenting educationary forces? We say ultimate with emphasis, because we are no visionaries. We do not expect miracles. We do not anticipate sudden and instantaneous changes. But we do look forward with confidence to a great ultimate revolution. We do regard Lord William Bentinck's Act as laying the foundation of a train of causes which may for a while operate so insensibly as to pass unnoticed by careless or casual observers, but not the less surely as concerns the great and momentous issue. Like the laws which silently, but with resistless power, regulate the movements of the material universe, these educationary operations, which are of the nature and force of moral laws, will proceed onwards till they terminate in effecting a universal change in the national mind of India.
But highly as we approve of Lord W. Bentinck's enactment so far as it goes, we must, ere we conclude, in justice to our own views and to the highest and noblest cause on earth, take the liberty of strongly expressing our own honest conviction that it does not go far enough. Truth is better than error in any department of knowledge, the humblest as well as the most exalted. Hence it is that we admire the moral intrepidity of the man who decreed that, in the Government institutions of India, true literature and true science should henceforth be substituted in place of false literature, false science, and false religion. But while we rejoice that true literature and science is to be substituted in place of what is demonstrably false, we cannot but lament that no provision whatever has been made for substituting the only true religion-Christianity-in place of the false religion which our literature and science will inevitably demolish.
Our maxim has been, is now, and ever will be thus: Wherever, whenever, and by whomsoever Christianity is sacrificed on the altar of worldly expediency, there and then must the supreme good of man lie bleeding at its base. But because a Christian Government has chosen to neglect its duty towards the religion which it is sacredly bound to uphold, is that any reason why the churches of Britain should neglect their duty too? Let us be aroused, then, from our lethargy, and strive to accomplish our part. If we are wise in time, we may convert the act of the Indian Government into an ally and a friend. The extensive erection of a machinery for the destruction of ancient superstition we may regard as opening of new facilities, in the good providence of
God, for the spread of the everlasting gospel, as serving the part of a humble pioneer in clearing away a huge mass of rubbish that would otherwise have tended to impede the free dissemination of divine truth. Wherever a Government seminary is founded which shall have the effect of battering down idolatry and superstition there let us be prepared to plant a Christian institution that shall, through the blessing of Heaven, be the instrument of rearing the bounteous superstructure of Christianity on the ruins of both.
Already has the Church of Scotland hotly entered upon te great field; but let her remember that she has only crossed the border. Already has she taken up a bold and commanding position in front of the enemy; but let her not forget that the warfare is only begun. Let her arise, and in the name of the Lord march forward to take possession of the land. Already has she given evidence of the possibility, and an example of turning the Government schemes of education to profitable account. Where the Government has established its first English1 college there did she station her first missionaries and plant her first Christian institution.2 And some of the most talented young men in the Government College became, through the grace of the Divine Spirit, her first converts, the first-fruits of her missionary labours in Hindustan.
The die had now been cast, and the cause of western learning had triumphed. After much searching of heart and deliberation the British rulers in India had decided on a great departure from their accepted policy to interfere as little as possible with the social development of the people. They had resolved to introduce a system of education which was based on a study of western thought and ideas and, as a corollary to this decision, they were of the opinion that this instruction should be imparted, in the main, through the medium of an alien language and very often by teachers of an alien race. It was, indeed, a hazardous experiment, fraught with dangerous possibilities. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate its importance. Lord Morley has given his opinion that the establishment of universities was a far more momentous event and one almost deeper than the transfer of the Crown. There is no department to-day in
Indian administration which causes more discussion and arouses such feelings of controversy as the subject of education. The number of questions and resolutions put forward before the imperial and provincial councils, the speeches delivered at public meetings, the letters, articles and contributions in the public press bear eloquent testimony to the interest taken by the Indian community in the educational policy of its Government. Many years back, Sir Henry Maine uttered these words: "The thing must be seen to be believed, and I don't know which is the more astounding, the more striking, the multitude of the students who, if not now, will soon be counted, not by the hundred but by the thousand, or the keenness and eagerness they displayed. For my part, I do not think anything of the kind has been seen by any European university since the Middle Ages, and I doubt whether there is anything founded by or connected with the British Government in India which excites so much practical interest in Indian households of the better class, from Calcutta to Lahore, as the examinations of the University."
Few can pretend to be oblivious of the dangers that might attend this great departure. Already there were men of experience who detected evils that might come in the train of western education and who were nervous of political discontent among educated Indians, as a result of the new departure in educational policy. Lord Metcalfe combated these views in the following memorandum :—
Western Learning and Political Discontent
Source.-Minute of Sir C. Metcalfe, dated May 16, 1835.
His lordship,1 however, sees further danger in the spread of knowledge and the operations of the Press. I do not, for my own part, anticipate danger as a certain consequence from these causes. I see so much danger in the ignorance, fanaticism and barbarism of our subjects that I rest on the spread of knowledge some hope of greater strength and security. Then will he better be able to appreciate the good and evil of our rule; and if the good
1 Lord William Bentinck.
predominate, they will know that they may lose by a change. Without reckoning on the affection of any, it seems probable that those of the natives who would most deprecate and least promote our overthrow, would be the best-informed and most enlightened among them, unless they had themselves, individually, ambitious dreams of power. If, however, the extension of knowledge is to be a new sense of danger-and I will not pretend confidently to predict the contrary-it is one altogether unavoidable. It is our duty to extend knowledge whatever may be the result; and spread it would even if we impeded it. The time is passed when the operations of the Press could be effectually resisted, even if that course would be any source of safety, which must be very doubtful. Nothing so precarious could in prudence be trusted to. If, therefore, increase of danger is really to be apprehended from increase of knowledge, it is what we must cheerfully submit to. We must not try to avert it, and if we did we should fail.
It is possible, as pointed out by Mr. H. R. James, that English education in India owes more to the organising capacity of Macaulay than to his celebrated minute. The Committee, now released from the conflict of opinions as to its correct educational policy, worked with astonishing energy. Two important questions still demanded attention, the position of the vernaculars in an English-teaching school, and to what classes of the community the benefits of an English education should be given. On the first point, the Committee realised that as yet "the vernacular languages contained neither the literary nor scientific information necessary for a liberal education," but at the same time held that the formation of a vernacular literature was the ultimate object of their efforts. In regard to the second problem, the Committee laid down that boys of every caste should be admitted to the new institutions without distinction, but, in practice, they adopted what has been termed "the filtration process" of knowledge. Education was to be confined at first almost entirely to the upper and middle classes, in the hopes that they, as the natural leaders of the people, would spread their knowledge among the
The Organisation of the New System
Source. The first Annual Report of the Committee of Education. Reproduced in Trevelyan's " Education of the People of India," PP. 23-5, 47-9. (Longmans.)
We are deeply sensible of the importance of encouraging the cultivation of the vernacular languages. We do not conceive that the order of the 7th of March precludes us from doing this, and we have constantly acted on this construction. In the discussions which preceded that order, the claims of the vernacular languages were broadly and prominently admitted by all parties, and the question submitted for the decision of Government only concerned the relative advantage of teaching English on the one side, and the learned Eastern languages on the other. We therefore conceive that the phrases "European literature and science," " English education alone," and "imparting to the native population a knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English language," are intended merely to secure the preference to European learning taught through the medium of the English language, over Oriental learning taught through the medium of the Sanskrit and Arabic languages, as regards the instruction of those natives who receive a learned education at our seminaries. These expressions have, as we understand them, no reference to the question through what ulterior medium such instruction as the mass of the people is capable of receiving, is to be conveyed. If English had been rejected, and the learned Eastern languages adopted, the people must equally have received this knowledge through the vernacular dialects. It was therefore quite unnecessary for the Government in deciding the question between the rival languages to take any notice of the vernacular tongues, and consequently we have thought that nothing could reasonably be inferred from its omission to take such notice.
We conceive the formation of a vernacular literature to be the ultimate object to which all our efforts must be directed. At present, the extensive cultivation of some foreign language, which is always very improving to the mind, is rendered indispensable by the almost fatal absence of a vernacular literature, and the consequent impossibility of obtaining a tolerable education from that source only. The study of English, to which many circumstances induce the natives to give the preference, and with it the knowledge of the learning of the West, is therefore daily spreading. This, as it appears to us, is the first stage in the process by which India is to be enlightened. The natives must learn before they can teach. The best educated among them must be placed in possession of our knowledge before they can